Selections from the Arnold Book of Old Songs for Voice and Guitar
In 1942 Roger Quilter began composing arrangements of folk songs to send to a favorite nephew, Arnold Guy Vivian, who was serving in the military during World War II. A year later Vivian was listed as missing in action, and a memorial service was held for the young man at the end of the war. Quilter was heartbroken over his nephew’s death. The folk song settings intended as a gift instead became a published memorial; hence the title of the collection.
Quilter's sources for the songs apparently were varied. It is likely that he made subjective choices in the versions of the core melodies and lyrics, sometimes eliminating some verses. The settings of these melodies are not mere harmonization, but fully composed in the spirit of art song for the recital stage.
Gregg Nestor has selected nine of the sixteen settings best suited for adaptation to voice and guitar. They can be successfully mixed and matched and presented as short mini-cycles grouped around their nationalistic heritage, or as encore material for recitals.
(I GOT A ROBE (HEAV'N, HEAV'N)
Roger Quilter arranged this spiritual for the contralto Marian Anderson, and she included it in her début recital at the Wigmore Hall, London, on June 16, 1928, with Quilter accompanying.